Back to school: Avoid morning meltdown

Here's how the whole family can get organized for the busy year ahead.

By GreatSchools Staff

Getting ready to go back to school is a family affair, requiring everyone to get organized. Here are some tips to help everyone in your household avoid leaving important tasks until the last minute.

  • Many schools send out school information and a packet of forms to fill out before school starts. If you can discipline yourself to fill out the paperwork several days before it's due, you'll avoid a last minute panic.
  • Have the necessary immunization records available for easy reference.
  • Update school emergency contact and health information for the coming year. Check with your emergency contacts and make sure they are still available for back up. Keep a copy of your finished form to speed up the process next year.
  • As you read through all the school information, mark important dates (such as Back-to-School Night, parent-teacher conference week and school holidays) on the family calendar.
  • Start a folder for school newsletters and other papers and establish a place where you will keep them so that you can easily find and refer to them if necessary. You might need both a file folder for papers and an electronic one for email communications.
  • Establish a "Get Ready the Night Before" policy. Pick clothes for the next day and pack the backpack every evening before bedtime and you'll save precious time in the morning. Leave backpacks and other items you want to take with you by the front door or in an established place so that you won't forget anything in the morning.

Set priorities and schedules

To make the best use of your time and keep life from being harried, think about priorities for family members and then schedule them into the week.

For children

Before school begins, discuss what extracurricular activities your child will participate in. If your child needs a little extra encouragement to audition for jazz band or to take that early morning Italian class, now is the time to go over the benefits of these activities. Some classes fill up quickly, so it's a good idea to sign up early to avoid disappointment. However, if your child needs to have limits set, have her pick her favorite activities and forgo the rest. Be realistic and don't fall victim to over-programming. Make sure to leave enough time to do homework and for family time.

For parents

Determine how much time you can give to the school each month as a volunteer and involved parent: in the classroom, on field trips, for fundraising events and on school-wide committees.

For the family

Start a family calendar in a common area where each family member can see it and write down their activities.

Prepare for the homework ahead

Having set routines and a place to study at home will make it easier for your child to be organized and successful at school.

  • Set up a well-lit, quiet place with a good work surface to do homework. Try to keep this place dedicated to homework and free of other clutter.
  • Establish a regular homework time. This will help your student to complete assignments on time.
  • Discourage distractions such as television, radio, the Internet or phone conversations during homework time.